Press Pass: John Fox

In this edition of "Press Pass," Panthers head coach John Fox talks to the Tampa media about David Carr, his off-season coaching moves and the difference between Joey Galloway and his speedster, Steve Smith.

When you look at that Bucs defense on tape, are you seeing harder hitting, more explosion and crisper tackling than last year?

I thought they were all of the above last year.

To the same degree that they are this year?

I mean, they're very similar. They're a very fast, run to the ball defense, and I think they always have been.

John, it's only Week 4 and we've seen seven or eight teams play their backup quarterback at some point. In your mind, what are the top criteria that quality backup quarterback have?

They have to be able to win games for you if the first guy gets hurt. I think you saw how that paid off with your current quarterback (Jeff Garcia) in Philadelphia. When Donovan McNabb got hurt, Jeff Garcia, a high-performing quarterback in the past, came in and parlayed that into being the starter in Tampa.

Mr. Fox, what's the story for you at quarterback. Who's practicing today (Wednesday)?

Jake (Delhomme) did not practice. David Carr took those reps with the first team.

How comforting is it to have someone as proven as Carr behind Jake?

It was one of our main objectives in the offseason because of the situation we had happen to us a year ago. We went 1-2 in that stretch (without Delhomme) and I think as competitive as this league is now you need to have quality backups everywhere, in particular at quarterback.

In regards to your defense, has it been a little disappointing to you your inability to create turnovers and sacking the quarterback?

I think it's way too early (to say that). We started slow last year. After Game 1 we gave up 250 yards rushing and I think we ended up sixth in the league. I don't think too many heads coaches think they've arrived after three games, I guess is my point.

About the NFC South, it looks like it's living up to its reputation. What makes it so quirky?

It's (the NFC South) really not quirky. I think that's a misconception. The outside sources are the one that make all these predictions and then the coaches have to defend it. Most of the coaches in the NFC South, or even in the league, know it's all tough and it's going to be year-to-year. I think the prognosticators are the ones putting the rest of that out there and they don't prove to be right very often.

When you looked at David Carr in Houston and the success that he didn't have there, how much of that did you attribute to him or the guys playing around him? What was it that convinced you that this guy was still a great talent?

That's all relative on any team. You look at how a guy plays his position. And I there was no question that he needed a supporting cast. There's not one guy doing it in any stage of football. He was a guy a guy that made plays. Houston is a better football team than people think and they won more games than people think. You know they went up to Indianapolis and beat the Colts late in the season last year. They're a capable team and he was about a 60 percent passer on that team. At the end of the day, we liked what we saw. We looked at him very hard coming out (of college) because we had the second pick in the draft that year, (we also looked at) Joey Harrington and a bunch of the other guys that were in that Draft (2002). So we knew him pretty well and we liked him.

Can you talk about offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson and how some of those guys, like DeShaun (Foster) have benefited from the new blocking scheme?

We've adjusted. We didn't reinvent the wheel. But we're doing more zone blocking than we have in the past. I still have a lot of good coaches on the offensive side. But Jeff was a guy that I knew a lot about. I almost hired him on my original staff. I was familiar with him. He's definitely competent and he shares my vision.

Coach, you're a defensive guy. Your secondary has given up 250 passing yards per game. Is there one component that has eluded you in not being able to defend the pass as well as you might want to?

As I mentioned to our media here, yards don't win games — points do. We're 2-1 and I think too much is made of yards and all of those things. It's not just the secondary that's involved in passing sets. So we have some areas we need to work on, but I would just reiterate that yards don't win games — points do.

What is your thought about facing this new (Bucs) offense, I guess you could say, with Garcia at quarterback?

I don't see much difference. The offensive line has changed a little bit. Obviously the quarterback position has changed. But they're running the same offense. They just happen to be playing better right now.

How do you keep a guy like Joey Galloway from getting deep on you?

I'm sure the same way they'll try to keep (Carolina's) Steve Smith from beating them. I don't really want to get into explanations, but it's similar. They use Joey Galloway a lot like we use Steve Smith.

Coach, what issues might David Carr face if he makes his first start against the Buccaneers on Sunday?

Really, making good decisions. Whichever quarterback it is, whether it's Jake or David Carr, I think the position is about making good decisions.

What do you like about David that might make him well suited to step into a situation like this?

I'm not really sure how to answer that. We think a lot of David. Otherwise we wouldn't have him on our team. We have a lot of confidence (in him) and you can pop in an Atlanta tape and see how he did when he came in.

John, do you think it's harder to play cornerback in the NFL than when you came into the league as a secondary coach 20 years ago?

No. I think it's always been a hard position because it can be isolated. You have to have a short memory and it's a bit more visible if you make a mistake. So it's always been hard and I think it continues to be.

Do you think the rules work against a player trying to cover someone like a Steve Smith or a Joey Galloway than maybe the rules work against other positions?

There's no question that in the last 15 years it's (the rules) definitely changed. But that's part of our business and we're about keeping enough scoring in the game so it doesn't turn into soccer. I think everyone on defense in this league that coaches and plays defense understands that and it's called a little tighter than it was 10 years ago.

You get to see a deep threat like Steve Smith in practice every day. But what impresses you the most about Joey Galloway?

I think it's a little bit like the old defensive back in Washington, (Darrell) Green. It's how far along they are in their career and still playing that fast. He's always fast and the fact that he continues to be fast is amazing to me.

How much attention does Steve get from week to week and how important is it for you to develop alternate threats in the passing game?

Last week he had one catch and we had 27 points. So, I think our offensive staff understands that and the people that we play know that we understand that. I think we loosened them up enough last week (in the passing game).

In your mind, John, is Smith's greatest attribute, as a pro?

He plays a lot bigger than he his. He plays stronger and taller. He can leap. He's very good after the catch. I think what probably makes a big difference is how competitive he is.

John, I can't believe you would questions us pundits that predict records the way you did earlier. I can't believe you would besmirch us like that (question asked in jest)?

You know, it's not new. Every year somebody makes a prediction and everybody believes it's going to come true. I don't want to say everybody believes it does. It seldom does.

John, it's early in the season, but the importance of this game with both teams at 2-1 can't be lost on you?

I would think so (it's motivating). Of course, it was like that last year, and the year before that and the year before that. It's always motivating.

John how has Carnell Williams looked to you this year as opposed to the last couple of years?

He looks good. The guy was rookie of the year. He's put up good numbers. He's effective as both a runner and a receiver. So he looks good.

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